Pennsylvania House Could Take Up Bill Allowing Research Into Industrial Hemp

PENNSYLVANIA: A state House panel moved a bill that paves the way for research into industrial uses of hemp research

After approval by the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, the bill now moves to the House floor. The measure would allow university researchers and programs administered by the Department of Agriculture to study industrial hemp through a pilot program.

The legislation is sponsored by State Rep. Russ Diamond (R-Lebanon) and is one step toward re-establishing the industrial hemp industry in the state, which used to lead the nation.

Industrial hemp production stopped in 1937 when the Marijuana Tax Act was passed. Hemp has been illegal since 1970 when the Controlled Substances Act passed, as hemp comes from the cannabis plant.

In May, it was reported that Canadians are turning a profit from production of hemp seed. According to an Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development report, estimated gross revenue for Canadian hemp seed production was between $30.75 million and $34 million. In 2010, exports of Canadian hemp seed and hemp products were valued at more than $10 million.

Will Pennsylvania Farmers Be Allowed To Grow Hemp Again?

PENNSYLVANIA: A black and white picture from Hanover, Pennsylvania circa 1908 shows a farmer harvesting his field of hemp. Thirty years later, it was illegal to grow the plant.

“Hemp was grown in Pennsylvania for hundreds of years and all of sudden, in the reefer madness craze of the 1930s, it got taken off the availability for farmers, so we are going to try and bring it back here in Pennsylvania,” state Rep. Russ Diamond (R-Lebanon) said.

Diamond introduced House Bill 967 to create a pilot program for industrial hemp research. The plant could be grown in special programs under the Department of Agriculture and at universities.

“It puts us in line with over two dozen other states who have already done this,” Diamond said.